Reducing violence in St. Thomas

Erinma Bell during a panel discussion at the 2013 Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal.

Erinma Bell during a panel discussion at the 2013 Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal.

By Erinma Bell, a graduate of Rotary’s Peace Center program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand

Revenge and retaliation killings amount to 60 percent of street violence/homicides in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

By any standard, historic or comparative, the Virgin Islands experiences extremely high levels of violence. Reducing violence was cited as the territory’s number one priority in a recent survey of citizens. Violent crime, and the fear of it, has changed the way people live.

I was asked by the Rotary clubs of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Thomas Sunrise to come Continue reading

The benefits of a Rotary Peace Fellowship

Rotary Peace Fellow Julia Smith in South Africa.

Rotary Peace Fellow Julia Smith in Nairobi, Kenya.

By Julia Smith, Rotary Peace Fellow 

In 2008-09, I was lucky enough to be awarded a Rotary Peace Fellowship to complete my master’s degree at the University of Bradford. Five years later, I continue to build on that remarkable learning experience.

The University of Bradford is famous for its conflict resolution expertise and I took full advantage of this by taking courses on African Approaches to Conflict Resolution and Applied Conflict Resolution. Continue reading

Life after becoming a Rotary Peace Fellow

Anne Smiley during her studies at the Rotary Peace Center in Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand in 2012.

Anne Smiley during her studies at the Rotary Peace Center in Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand in 2012.

By Anne Smiley, a 2012 graduate of the Rotary Peace Center in Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

My only hesitation in jumping at the incredible opportunity to be a Rotary Peace Fellow was looking forward to retirement and not having to do anything! A dear friend of mine who took part in the program encouraged me, saying “It will change your life.” Indeed, after the program, I could no longer come home and look the other way or not respond to issues that I care deeply about. Continue reading

Sisters share a passion for peace

Katrina (left, second row) and Summer (center) in 2009 with members of MarketPlace India, a fair trade textile cooperative based in Mumbai.

Katrina (left, second row) and Summer (center) in 2009 with members of MarketPlace India, a fair trade textile cooperative based in Mumbai.

By Summer Lewis, a 2010-12 Rotary Peace Fellow, University of Queensland

My sister Katrina and I grew up overseas with our mom, an international educator. Between the two of us, we have traveled, lived and worked in 57 countries.

Katrina is a design professor. I am committed to fair trade and small-scale farmer development. We like to say that Katrina got her start playing with boxes as a kid, and I began cultivating my passion for grassroots development in the garden. Continue reading

Women creating peace across the world’s divides

By Christina DeAngelis, a 2006-2008 Rotary Peace Fellow, Bradford University

Christina DeAngelis works with women as part of Creators of Peace.

Christina DeAngelis works with women as part of Creators of Peace.

Since 2005, I have had the privilege of being involved in an international women’s peace-building program called Creators of Peace. Creators of Peace empowers women to be radical peace-builders, starting with themselves, their families, their communities and further afield. The idea is that if peace is to start anywhere then the best place for it to start is in “me.”  Continue reading

Searching for peace on International Women’s Day

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Francesca Del Mese

By Francesca Del Mese , a 2002-2004 Rotary Peace Fellow, University of Queensland

I recently travelled to Pretoria, South Africa on behalf of UN Women as part of the newly formed group of investigators for sexual and gender based crimes as war crimes. When I was in South Africa, I was struck by a comment I heard from a prominent South African Minister. She made parallels between apartheid and sexual and gender based crimes, saying that apartheid had been defeated and so could violence against women. When I heard the comparison, I instantly dismissed the idea; the two are completely non-comparable. Continue reading

A peace fellow’s experience at the Peace Forum in Honolulu

Rotary Peace Fellow Marios Antoniou at the forum in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Rotary Peace Fellow Marios Antoniou, right, at the forum in Honolulu, Hawaii.

By Marios Antoniou, a 2008-10 Rotary Peace Fellow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

It was an honor, and a pleasure, to be invited to address the attendees of the Rotary Global Peace Forum in Honolulu. These people travelled from across the world to the Hawaiian Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to share their thoughts and actions for peace, in the spirit of Aloha.

Three days went by fast, perhaps too fast! Continue reading

My Rotary Moment from the peace forum

Peace Fellow Anne Riechert speaks during a panel at the peace forum in Berlin.

Peace Fellow Anne Riechert (left) speaks during a panel at the peace forum in Berlin.

By Anne Riechert, a 2010-12 Rotary Peace Fellow, International Christian University

Saturday morning, Paul Knyff shared his favorite Rotary moment with the more than 1,800 Rotarians attending the first Rotary Global Peace Forum in Berlin. Having been involved with Rotary Youth Exchange, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) and the Rotary Peace Centers program for more than a decade, I asked myself what my favorite Rotary moment had been. It felt a little like picking a favorite child. I would like to share with you, however, my favorite moment from the forum. Continue reading

Coaching peace in Hong Kong

Associate Professor Sam Hardy (left) and Professor Nadja Alexander lead a training session on peace coaching. Photo courtesy of Sam Hardy

By Sam Hardy, 2010 Rotary Peace Fellow and director of the conflict management and resolution program at James Cook University in Australia

In 2010, I was a Rotary Peace Fellow in the professional development program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. The three-month program gave me an opportunity to learn about peace-building from an international perspective, both from the teachers in the program, and from my fellow Peace Fellows from around the world.

I have been working as a mediator and an academic teaching in peace and conflict management programs for the past 13 years. Continue reading